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Match Reports

Brentford 1 Reading 1

A point apiece at Griffin Park

16 September 2017

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A Josh Clarke goal was not enough to give Brentford a deserved win against Reading as they were pegged back by a second half penalty. The Bees dominated for long stages and fully merited a one-goal advantage they had inside the final quarter of the match. Clarke had smashed home in the first period and The Bees had created enough chances to add to that lead and take the points. But Liam Kelly lashed home a second half spot kick to ensure the game finished all square.

It was a case of what-might-have-been for The Bees. After a fast opening from the visitors to both halves, Brentford had control and had the chances to put the game beyond Reading. But a failure to give themselves a two-goal cushion meant that Reading were one opening away from taking a share of the spoils and that proved to be the case as they levelled inside the final 20 minutes.

Reading started the game really quickly. They got men forward in the opening exchanges and looked to press Brentford back. Jón Daði Böðvarsson had a sight of goal inside the first 30 seconds but John Egan made an important block and the Icelandic striker then got on to a long ball before Daniel Bentley soon after but slipped having rounded the Brentford goalkeeper and the chance was gone. Kelly blasted well over moments later.

All those Reading chances came inside the first five minutes as they harassed and harried Brentford. They pressed high up the pitch and gave little space for The Bees to play. It took Brentford a few minutes to work out their angles and they ways to create space in the centre of the pitch but once they did their central trio – Ryan Woods, Romaine Sawyers and Kamohelo Mokotjo – were able to cut the visitors open.

Brentford steadily took control of the game. They played with precision and patience and started to create chances. Florian Jozefzoon saw a shot blocked after he was found by Mokotjo and Neal Maupay saw an effort hit a defender soon after. Andreas Bjelland headed wide when well-placed and just past the quarter hour Brentford took the lead. Clarke burst forward from right back and found Maupay, he then got the ball back and smashed a shot through the hands of Vito Mannone.

It was a goal Reading would have considered preventable. They were never able to clear their lines after Paul McShane had presented the ball to Ollie Watkins. While the first chance came to nothing, Clarke picked up the loose ball and it was in the net seconds later, albeit via a shot that Mannone could, perhaps, have saved. The goalkeeper saved unconvincingly from Mokotjo soon after, following a lovely flick from Watkins, and Egan then saw a header blocked.

Brentford had the upper hand before the goal and once they had the lead confidence flowed. Reading were playing with scraps of possession as Brentford swarmed all over them and the early energy from the visitors vanished. Bjelland had another header saved from a deep corner before Mannone denied Maupay after a superb tackle from Woods. The Bees could have scored a second when a Mokotjo pass found Jozefzoon, his cut back fell to Watkins, the shot was blocked and Sawyers was bundled over as he attempted to follow-up. Referee Tony Harrington – who had clamped down on a lot of Reading foul play in the first half, but not all of it – decided no offence had been committed.

Jozefzoon fired a free kick over the bar and Watkins then had a shot blocked before McShane headed wide for the visitors at the other end. As half time approached Brentford continued to push forward. Jozefzoon was unable to head in a Watkins cross at the far post and Mannone saved at the feet of Maupay after McShane had almost played himself in to terminal trouble again. The teams went in to the break with Brentford in control but with only one goal to their credit.

That break came at a good time for Reading and they reappeared for the second half with a change in personnel – Roy Beerens replacing Böðvarsson – and renewed energy. They started the second half as they started the first and had chances to level. Kelly sliced a shot wide from the edge of the box before Liam Moore nodded across the six-yard-line and the ball was scrambled clear. Bentley then made a full length save from a curling Beerens shot.

Kelly had a shot blocked just before the hour mark but it appeared Brentford had weathered that storm. They began to find their passes in midfield again and most of the game was played in Reading territory. Jozefzoon shot wide as he tried to latch on to a lofted ball from Watkins and Sawyers had a shot blocked. Watkins curled a shot over for The Bees and an Egan header was saved as Brentford looked for a second goal.

They should have got one when they broke quickly and Clarke released Jozefzoon in behind, the winger got clear and cut inside with only Mannone to beat but he dragged his shot wide with Maupay waiting for a square pass and a tap in. And that proved to be a crucial moment as Reading equalised within three minutes. A deep free kick was played to the back post and Mr Harrington adjudged that Rico Henry had pushed Moore. He awarded a spot kick and Kelly smashed it high past Bentley to level the scores.

That could have knocked the stuffing out of The Bees but they came again and went looking to restore the lead they deserved. Watkins had a shot saved and a Bjelland effort was blocked when a free kick dropped loose. A Jozefzoon effort then landed on the roof of the net after a Nico Yennaris cross found its way to the back post and, from a free kick soon after, Bjelland saw a header blocked before Mannone somehow scrambled his second effort away.

Brentford thought they should have had a penalty when McShane bundled Maupay over when he looked set to shoot from ten yards after weaving his way though. The anger of the home side was further increased when Maupay was penalised for trying to tackle Mannone in a less firm way seconds later. Watkins headed wide late on but Reading could have snatched the win at the death. Joey van den Berg shot wide from the edge of the box and Sone Aluko hit the crossbar from long range in the dying seconds. That would have been a different level or cruelty for The Bees on an afternoon when not winning felt very unjust.

Brentford: Bentley; Clarke, Egan, Bjelland, Henry; Woods; Jozefzoon (sub Archibald 87 mins), Mokotjo (sub McEachran 74 mins), Sawyers (sub Yennaris 74 mins), Watkins; Maupay

Subs (not used): Daniels, Mepham, Barbet, Shaibu

Bookings: Egan (66 mins), Henry (69 mins) (second of season), Maupay (72 mins) (second of season)

Reading: Mannone; Gunter, McShane, Moore, Blackett (sub Obita 70 mins); van den Berg, Edwards; Aluko, Kelly (sub Bacuna 77 mins), McCleary; Böðvarsson (sub Beerens h/t)

Subs (not used): Jaakkola, Evans, Ilori, Clement

Bookings: McShane (5 mins), McCleary (24 mins), Edwards (34 mins), Obita (81 mins)

Attendance: 9,739 (1,650 away fans)

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